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Understanding Smoke Damage after a house fire.

December 11th, 2015 · No Comments

ServiceMaster DSI of Indianapolis works with people who have been victims of house fires quite often, and we find that many people are amazed by the damage that smoke causes after a fire. Even a fire that did not spread a lot before containment or lacked visible flames can cause widespread smoke damage, which is why it is so important to have immediate professional smoke damage restoration conducted after a fire.

To understand smoke damage, you must understand that smoke is merely fuel that did not burn. Smoke is visible because of its make-up of small particles of carbon and other tiny particles known as PM10 (Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in diameter).  Once it reaches the combustible stage, smoke becomes fire, giving off heat, light, and carbon dioxide. The stage between smoke and fire is variable and dependent on many factors such as where the fire originates and the amount of oxygen that gets to the fire. Low oxygen, or “smoldering” kinds of fires, create a permeating smoke which produces smells and odors which are extremely difficult to remove.

In a home, there are many different types of materials that can burn such as fabrics (textiles), metals, woods, plastics, as well as general construction materials. Smoke is very toxic and can contain sulfur dioxide, methane, volatile organic chemicals, formaldehyde, and many other dangerous compounds. In the case of wood surfaces, the pores of the wood open in the heat and humidity of the fire which allows the smoke to settle in. For plastics and synthetic materials, their chemical make-up combined with high temperatures can cause melting, and the smoke will bond to the surface of these objects. The acidic nature of smoke can cause corrosion, discoloration, and damage to objects in the home. If not treated promptly and properly, this damage will continue to manifest long after the fire is extinguished. The IICRC published this sobering timeline to give you an idea how quickly smoke damage can escalate:

Within Minutes: Acidic soot residues cause plastics to yellow; small appliances located close to the source of combustion discolor; highly porous materials (marble, alabaster) discolor permanently.

Within Hours: Acid residues stain grout in bathrooms; fiberglass bath fixtures may yellow; uncoated metals tarnish, counter tops may yellow; finishes on appliances, particularly refrigerators, may yellow; furniture finishes may discolor.

Within Days: Acid residues cause painted walls to yellow permanently; metal corrodes, pits and rusts; wood furniture requires refinishing; vinyl flooring requires refinishing or replace­ment; clothing becomes soot stained; upholstery stains permanently.

Within Weeks: Restoration costs escalate tremendously. Synthetic carpet fibers may yellow or discolor permanently; silver plate is corroded permanently; glass, crystal, china may require replacement due to severe etching and pitting caused by prolonged exposure to acid soot residues.

Our ServiceMaster DSI professionals can’t stress this enough – when it comes to smoke damage restoration in the Indianapolis area, the most important need is a quick response. As soon as the all clear is given, our highly trained technicians will begin the process of remediation and restoration to prevent escalating costs and needless loss. Call us today.




Tags: Smoke Damage Repair ·


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